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Badger Trust wins appeal over cull

15 June 2010

The Badger Trust has been granted leave to appeal against a High Court decision which cleared the way for a cull in west Wales.

The High Court ruled in April that there was no obligation on the Welsh Assembly’s minister for rural affairs, Elin Jones, to carry out a balancing exercise before deciding whether there should be a large-scale cull of badgers (see Solicitors Journal 154/16, 27 April 2010).

The trust argued that Mr Justice Lloyd Jones had failed to correctly interpret section 21(2) of the Animal Health Act 1981, which provided that the cull must “eliminate or substantially reduce” the incidence of TB in cattle.

David Wolfe, barrister at Matrix Chambers and counsel for the trust, said that something more than a “minor or trivial reduction” was required.

He challenged the suggestion that Parliament could have intended to allow the slaughter of wild animals (the killing of which is normally a criminal offence) without the decision maker “even needing to consider the balance in question”.

Mr Justice Elias said both points raised by the trust were arguable and granted leave to appeal.

Gwendolen Morgan, solicitor in the public law department at Bindmans, is acting for the Badger Trust.

“The success of our application to appeal to the Court of Appeal calls into question the minister’s plans to embark on this costly, ill-conceived cull, which is likely to do more harm than good in terms of TB reduction,” she said.

“Indeed, although it has largely passed under the radar, new cattle-focused measures are already beginning to make an impact in Wales and TB rates are quietly falling.”

As Solicitors Journal went to press, the Welsh Assembly government anounced it was postponing the cull pending the appeal.

The Court of Appeal hearing is expected to take place in September.

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